CACCC-2019: Climate impacts and challenges in global and regional context

Publication date: 18 March 2019
CACCC-2019: Climate impacts and challenges in global and regional context

CAREC prepared a series of articles on plenary sessions of the second Central Asia Climate Change Conference. The data management specialist of the CAMP4ASB project, Zhanna Babagaliyeva, spoke about the impact of climate change in the global and regional context.

The extent to which countries are vulnerable to the effects of climate change is determined by a number of different factors. “First, there are physico-geographical features that indicate the possible effects of climate change. Secondly, it is their socio-economic situation that determines the ability of countries to respond to climate risks” explained Zhanna Babagaliyeva.

The possible effects of climate change include an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, including heat waves, cold waves, droughts and heavy rains; increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters: mudflows, floods, landslides and others. As a result, such changes will lead to a reduction in water resources, land degradation, a reduction in biodiversity, a great number of outbreaks of infectious diseases, mass migration of the population and other consequences. Another important for humanity consequence will be threatened food security due to the negative impact on agricultural land and a reduction in yields.

Most of the territory of Central Asia is located in desertic or semi-desertic areas, with an arid, sharply continental climate, more susceptible to global warming. At the same time, agriculture is the main economic sector in most countries of Central Asia. “According to the World Bank and other studies, the Central Asian region was recognized as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. According to the observations of the hydrometeorological services, in the region, the rate of climate warming is ahead of world average levels”, Zhanna noted.

According to the consolidated annual report on climate change, global and regional temperatures have increased in the territories of the CIS member States for 2014, starting in the mid-1970-ies. The linear trend of average annual global temperatures for 1976-2014 shows an increase of 0.17 degrees Celsius every ten years. In CIS countries, this increase is of 0.41 degrees Celsius every ten years, which is almost two and a half time the increase in global temperatures.

In addition, according to Zhanna Babagaliyeva, it is necessary to emphasize that there is a problem of water resource management in the region, which is further aggravated by climate change. More than 70% of all water resources of Central Asia are formed in the mountains and come from glaciers. At the same time, in the last 50 years, there has been a sharp melting of glaciers. For example, in the Tien Shan mountains, up to 27% of glaciers have already melted in the past half-century.  “According to forecasts, the mass of all glaciers in the region will be reduced by 50% by 2015. Thus, there is a threat of water shortage in the region, as soon as the next 10-15 years already”, said Zhanna.

Adaptation and mitigation

To address the challenges associated with climate change, two key areas are used: adaptation and mitigation. “According to the assessment of the International Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), once the climate change process is launched, its consequences cannot be prevented. Therefore, for minimal losses due to the impacts of climate change, mankind needs to adapt to new living conditions”, Zhanna explained. The second area, mitigation or climate change mitigation, is mainly associated with a reduction in carbon emissions.

Zhanna explained that in Central Asia, the countries are already undertaking a number of activities at various levels, both on adaptation to climate change and on mitigating its effects. “However, countries have a developing or transitional economy. Therefore, the main barrier is the lack or scarceness of financial resources to ensure adaptation measures and reduce emissions.  In this regard, the global community, in the framework of the Paris Agreement, came to a common opinion on the financial support of developing countries to solve problems related to climate change”, added Zhanna Babagaliyeva.

According to Zhanna, in addition to funding, there are other barriers that impede the process of developing and implementing adaptation and mitigation measures. First of all, there is low public awareness and low potential of qualified personnel in the region. “For example, until today, all the hydrometric services of Central Asia used a mechanical method for forecasting meteorological, climatic and hydrological processes. Countries began to study and implement automated modelling for better and more timely forecasting, the standard procedure in the world, only two years ago”, said Zhanna. 

Regarding mitigation, Central Asian countries use various mechanisms. For example, Kazakhstan uses an emission trading system that encourages producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in so-called “green technologies”. Also, in all countries of the region, mechanisms are used to improve energy efficiency.

If we talk about adaptation, specific mechanisms do not apply. Each country has its own approach. These are mainly adaptation strategies that are based on adaptation measures for various sectors of the economy.  “Most of the adaptation measures are aimed at agriculture: rational use of irrigation water (drip irrigation, sprinklers), identification and introduction of varieties of crops resistant to drought and soil salinization, and other similar measures”, said Zhanna.

During the session, “The impact of Climate Change in the Global and Regional Context”, information on expected climate change trends will be presented, and the necessary joint measures will be discussed. The session will be supplemented by the latest scientific data on climate change and information on measures taken in Central Asia.

  Back to the list